Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Name: Megha Raga

Deccani, Hyderabad
circa 1725 CE.

The term Raga connotes harmony and melody as well as a musical mode. An individual Raga was associated with the deity to whom the Ragas were dedicated. Ragamala paintings depict Ragas’ respective personified form or presiding deified form conceived by traditional musicians and poets. These paintings were created in albums containing most often 36 or 42 folios, organized in a system of ‘families’ consisting of a male Raga as its head and 5 or 6 Raginis (wives), sometimes many Ragaputras (sons) and Ragaputris (daughters) and even Putravadhus (daughters-in-law).

Name: Asiatic Lion

Scientific Name: Panthera leo persica

The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Gujarat is the only habitat for the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica). The population recovered from the brink of extinction to 411 individuals in 2010. It is listed as Endangered by IUCN due to its small population size.

Severe hunting by Indian royalties and colonial personnel led to a steady and marked decline of lion numbers in the country. By 1880 only about a dozen lions were left in the Junagadh district. By the turn of the century, they were confined to the Gir Forest and protected by the Nawab of Junagadh in his private hunting grounds. In 2015, the lion population was estimated at 523 individuals.

Laksha-Chaitya - A Millon Stupas

Cloth Painting


15th Century C.E.


Laksha-Chaitya pata is a symbolic offering of one hundred thousand chaityas (stupas) to the god. It is a name of a vrata or ritual observed by Buddhist devotees which involves the donation of one hundred thousand chaityas in the name of the deity.

This particular pata is devoted to Tathagata Vairochana, one of the five Dhyani Buddhas. He is seated on a lotus pedestal in dharmachakra-pravartana mudra (gesture of turning the wheel of law by the Buddha) flanked by a white Avalokiteshvara and a yellow Maitreya. Within the garbhagriha (main shrine) are seen four Taras in yellow, blue, green and red. Personified figures of the moon riding a chariot drawn by seven geese are shown in the two vignettes. There are celestial beings in the four small vignettes. In small rectangles on the four sides are depicted the four Tathagatas- Amitabha (red), Amoghasiddhi (green), Akshobhya (blue) and Ratnasambhava (white).

An interesting feature of this pata is the depiction of Jataka, Avadana and stories of the Buddha within rectangular frames immediately around the central stupa and on the extreme outer border.

Objectofthemonth April2016

Shree Rampanchayatan
Chitrashala Steam Press
Early 20th century

The word panchayantan has Sanskrit origin. Pancha means five and ayatana means containing. It means group of five gods worshipped together. Panchayatan gods are Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu, Surya and Shakti. The arrangement of the Panchayatan is done in such a way that the particular god is placed in the centre of other four gods. For example, in Shiva Panchayatan, God Shiva is placed in the centre and others are placed around.
The concept of Rampanchayatan was introduced at a later date which has Ram, Sita, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughana.

Ganesha Puja
Kalamkari on Cotton
Tamil Nadu
20th Century CE
177 x 292 cms.

A large size Kalamkari pata on cloth depicting a scene of Ganesh Puja.

Ganesh with the four hands seated on mouse. At his back there is a big parikar is seen which is surmounted by a Stylized Kirtimukha. He is being worshipped by the devotees on either side. Two main devotees are standing with lamp, bell, a dish of sweet balls and incense burner. There are flying figures of females with flower baskets in the sky above the row of devotees.

At the top along the border there is a design of folded curtains on either side. A flower creeper design is shown running all along the border of pata.

The background of the painting is off-white. The colour used is Indian red, Pale yellow-ocher, light blue and light green.

Published in Hamsafar